A Crown prosecutor argued Thursday that Freedom Convoy organizer Tamara Lich breached her bail conditions by accepting an award for her leadership at the Ottawa protest.

A judge initially denied Lich bail after she was arrested during the massive protest that swept through downtown Ottawa for more than three weeks in February, but she was released in March after a review by the court’s decision.

Lich and fellow protest organizer Chris Barber are jointly charged with mischief, obstructing police, counseling others to commit mischief and intimidation.

She was released with a long list of conditions, including a ban on all social media and an order not to “support anything related to the Freedom Convoy”.

The Crown says Lich violated one of his bail conditions by agreeing to accept a “freedom award” from the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms, a legal advocacy group that supported the protest.

The organization planned to honor him at a gala for inspiring “Canadians to exercise their Charter rights and freedoms by actively participating in the democratic process” and leading the “Freedom Convoy” protest in Ottawa.

This demonstration turned into a week-long demonstration that brought the streets of Ottawa to a standstill. The federal government eventually invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in Canadian history in an attempt to dislodge the participants.

“Ms. Lich suffered for the cause of freedom by spending 18 days in prison unjustly and exemplifies courage, determination and perseverance,” the organization wrote in a statement on its website, which the Crown included in his notice of motion.

Lich told the court she learned she had won the award for her leadership role in the protest in a March 28 email and replied that she would be honored to accept.

“You were supporting something related to the Freedom Convoy,” Crown Attorney Moiz Karimjee charged when Lich spoke via videoconference.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Lich told the court, but said she didn’t think it was a violation of her terms.

“I don’t feel like that’s what recognition is for. I think recognition is meant to inspire Canadians to hold the government to account for the rule of law and to uphold their charter rights.

She also told the court “there is no more convoy.”

Karimjee argued in court that Lich should return to jail to await his trail.

The website said Lich will attend the awards dinner in Toronto on June 16, if a review of his bail conditions allows him to attend, as well as events in Vancouver and Calgary. .

The Toronto event is expected to include a keynote from columnist Rex Murphy.

During closing arguments, the judge repeatedly chastised the Crown for its “decorum,” until Karimjee extraordinarily asked Ontario Superior Court Judge Kevin Phillips to recuse himself from the hearing.

“I must frankly consider whether I should file a request for a mistrial in view of Your Honor’s comments,” Karimjee said before asking the judge to step down from the hearing, telling the court he was only doing his work.

“This request is denied,” Phillips replied.

Despite the tense exchange between the Crown and Judge Phillips, Lich appeared much more relaxed than in previous hearings, when she sat upright with her lands in her lap.

On Thursday, she appeared slumped in her chair, her arm hanging from the back, sucking on lozenges to relieve a sore throat.

During the protest, Keith Wilson, an attorney with the Justice Center for Constitutional Liberties, spoke on behalf of the convoy protesters at a press conference and described Lich as a client. He represented Lich and other protest members in civil litigation in February that saw an injunction placed over the noise protesters blew up from their trucks day and night in the early days of the protest.

“Tamara Lich should be detained,” concludes the Crown’s Notice of Motion.

Lich’s attorney, Lawrence Greenspon, disputed the notion that the awards gala was linked to the protest. He said the event does not appear to be a fundraiser for the protest movement.

Ottawa Sergeant Mahad Hassan told the court that Lich was not arrested for the alleged offence, although police believe they have the grounds, after a conversation with the Crown on May 3.

Instead, the police and the Crown decided to settle the matter at the scheduled bail review hearing.

Meanwhile, Lich’s lawyers plan to argue that his bail conditions are too restrictive and should be reconsidered.

Greenspon told the court on Thursday that the social media ban imposed on Lich was unnecessarily broad and had had a huge impact on her life while she was not in custody.

He said she wanted to be in touch with her 94-year-old grandmother through social media and communicate with her friends and family.

The hearing is expected to continue Friday.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 19, 2022.


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